Archive for August, 2009

Below is an entry provided by Jake Clemens, a past intern with Green Empowerment and AsoFenix about a fundraiser that was held this summer by Outland Reforestation. Thank you for all of your hard work Outland Reforestation!

If you had ventured into the Northern Alberta wilderness this past summer, it’s possible you could of encountered a grizzly bear, a moose, a beaver or an elk (most certainly a mosquito) but its also possible you could have stumbled upon a tree planter. Tree planting is an occupation that requires a rare breed of human being; one that is willing to push their body to the limits everyday, while living and working in the forest.

Looking Over the Logged Land

Looking Over the Logged Land

One at a time, every tree sapling is carefully planted through rough and uneven terrain, in order to rejuvenate a resource utilized by the logging industry. Sections of clear-cut forest is a treeplanter’s office, and they show up to work everyday, with each person planting between 2500 and 5000 saplings in a work-day.



This past summer, a camp of treeplanters from Outland Reforestation teamed up with Green Empowerment to help raise money for micro-hydro projects taking place in rural areas of Nicaragua. These projects will provide renewable electricity to five impoverished communities in Nicaragua and empower these communities to improve their economic, educational, and health conditions.

Some goals of the project include: Five schools and five health centers to have electrical service installed, installation of irrigation pumps for improved nutrition through the growing of vegetables, diversify economies through the introduction of electricity, electrical grids reaching 300 homes, building the capacity of local organizations and communities by giving them tools to ensure long-term technical and financial independence and sustainability

Thousands of kilometers remain between the camp of young treeplanters and the rural villages selected for this project, but with this fundraiser, a spruce sapling is gently placed in a hole in northern Alberta, as a DC lightbulb flickers on for the first time in a house in Nicaragua, signifying a progression towards a better standard of life.

The planters from Outland Reforestation would like to extend an enormous thank you to Green Empowerment for giving them a chance to be involved with this project, and applaud the strides that Green Empowerment has achieved towards alleviating poverty in the developing world.

The Outland Reforestation Group

The Outland Reforestation Group

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Below is a report describing the development and installation of a hydraulic ram pump system in the community of Herminal. It provides details about the community and the background of the project. While this project is not fully completed the community members are very pleased to have a steady source of water near Herminal.

Background: In 2006 the community of Herminal, through the Barangay, requested that the AIDFI (Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc.) conduct a survey for a water system for the community. The Barangay had heard that there was a possibility for AIDFI to pump up water to higher elevations without the use of electricity or fuel. A survey was carried out and the project was found feasible. This project was later on absorbed in a program through Green Empowerment. However, even with this partnership, there were still not enough funds to cover the full costs of the project. The director of the AIDFI tried to get some counterpart funds from the Municipality of Silay, but the talks between the director and the City Administration of Silay did not result in additional funds. Other projects in the Green Empowerment program were therefore prioritized and when the director of AIDFI went on to another organization, the negotiations were picked up again by another staff of AIDFI and the project was implemented.

Community: Herminal is a sugarcane plantation community that is located on the island of Negros in the Philippines. At the time of the first survey, the place was still a plantation.  In 2008 the area was placed under the land reform program and the sugar workers were able to advantage of the land. The title is still common and needs to be subdivided. There are 78 households and one of the big problems is the supply of water. Previously, before the ram pump system, the people had to fetch water from an unprotected source some 300 meters away and 20 meters down into the ground. In dry season this source would dry up and the community members would have to fetch water from a source that was farther away. Their consumption was limited to an average of two containers per day because of the distance. For bathing and laundry the households would go to the river, which is about 1 kilometer away.

Survey: Herminal was re-surveyed on February 25, 2009 to be sure about the expected output of the source. AIDFI has experienced many sources where the output has diminished over time. From the survey a new design was made and the expected output (to be delivered by the ram pumps to the community) was calculated at 16.500 liters/day.

Design: The amount reserved for Herminal from the Green Empowerment budget was enough to cover the cost for the impounding, catchment, two ram pumps with drive pipe systems, delivery line and a 10.000 liters tank and 5 tapstands. At least water could be pumped to the reservoir, making water more easily available to the community.

Social Preparation: The organizer of AIDFI was assigned to have meetings with the community to form a water assocition, discuss counterparting and participation in terms of labor and local technicians. The organizer also spent a lot of time trying to deal with the Municipality. It was suggested that AIDFI should get itself accredited by the Municipality of Silay in order to be approved as a financial counterpart of the Municipality. Normally, in other Municipalities, this is not too hard, but in Silay they came up with all kinds of additional requests for papers. We sensed that it might take a long time to get a financial contribution so we decided to explain the financial limitation of AIDFI to the community and meanwhile complete the initial parts of construction, meaning installing the ram pumps to pump water up to the reservoir. This would also give us the chance to work on getting financial support from the Municipality in the meantime.

Implementation: A technical installation team from AIDFI worked for 28 days on the installation. The hardest part of the work as the impounding since the soil structure was made of limestone and hard clay. Besides the main source, three other small sources were tapped (protected by cement boxes and connected with HDPE (high density polyethylene pipes). As per plan the system built by AIDFI pumped the water up to the reservoir, leaving the distribution to the tapstands up to a future financial contribution by the City Government. On a rotation basis the people from the community helped in the construction. The water association arranged the schedule for this. The people were paid daily and a small portion of the budget for the local labor went to the association’s fund. This was 20 pesos (40 dollar cents) per day/worker. The system consists of three different springboxes, one big impounding structure and a catchment which is directly connected to the first ram pump of 1 ½” ram pump, followed by a second ram pump of the same size (which utilizes the waste water of the first), delivery pipes from different sized HDPE (each ram has its own delivery pipe) leading to the reservoir over a distance of 230 meters. Then there are five tapstands still to be connected.

Technical data: The flow of the combined sources is 105 liters/min. The first ram pump is 5.5 meters lower than the catchment and delivers around 6.6 liters/min to the 56 meters higher elevated reservoir. The second ram pump is 6 meters lower than the first and also pumps around 6.6 liters/min over a height of 62 meters. The total output is more or less 19.000liters/day and is more than expected. This provides around 240 liters/household/day. This is 200 liters more than before. The ram pumps still have to be fine-tuned and may even deliver more water. The fine-tuning can be done when the installation has gone through the whole curing period.

Impact: Despite the long wait between the first survey and the final installation, the community members have expressed their happiness about the project. Many plans were heard now the members have more water available. From the experience of AIDFI with other communities, we can expect healthier children with less diarrhea and skin diseases, more livestock (mostly pigs), vegetable production and even some aquaculture. Also, because people no longer have to make the long walk to the water source, people will have more time available for more productive activities.

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The entry below is written by Anna Garwood, Green Empowerment’s Latin American Program Manager, who is currently in Cajamarca in Peru.

The “Workshop on Evaluation of Resources, Design, Installation and Management of Small-scale Wind Turbines” brought together about 40 people from all over Latin America to gain practical skills to tap into wind power for rural electrification. The workshop, organized by Green Empowerment and Soluciones Practica’s CEDECAP (Center for Demonstration and Training in Appropriate Technologies), consisted of 2 days of design lectures and 1 day of installing the wind turbines in the highland community of Alto Peru. The course participants worked side by side with community members to raise towers for the 500watt wind turbines and build electrical boxes that will light Alto Peru for the first time. The workshop and installation in Alto Peru is supported by Toyota Environmental Activities Grant Program.

The wind workshop was back-to-back with the biannual meet up of HIDRORED, a network of NGOs in Latin America focused on using renewable energy to meet the energy needs of the millions of people in the region without basic electricity. Here’s a link to the event: http://www.cedecap.org.pe/energia_cursos_detalle.php?item=MTY=

Below is a slideshow with pictures from the workshop in the highland community of Alto Peru. The first photo is of Anna and the Mayor of Tumbaden, Alejandro Malimba

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Megan Kerins and Double Panels

Megan Kerins, a recent 3-month Fellow with the Border Green Energy Team in Thailand, stars in a music video about energy efficient windows. Enjoy!

Green Buildings music video.
Stanford University,
CEE 176A – Energy Efficient Buildings,
Winter 2009,

Performed by: Megan Kerins, Nick Schlag, Will Bishop,
Lyrics by: Will Bishop,
Director: Matt Harnack,
Camera: Mike Attie & Matt Harnack
Thermal Imaging Courtesy of Lorna Fear @ http://www.infraredmagic.com

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Mary Solecki, a graduate of the Presidio School of Management’s Sustainable MBA program, spent two months with AsoFénix in Nicaragua working both in the field in Bramadero and re-developing the AsoFénix website in Managua. From the field to the office Mary shares her experience with the Green Empowerment community.

The end of my internship with AsoFénix is quickly coming to a close.  I can´t believe how fast these two months have flown by, but when I consider everything I have learned and accomplished in just two months, I understand why the time felt short.

When I arrived in Managua, I thought I wanted to spend most of my time in the campo (rural countryside) of Nicaragua.  AsoFénix was accommodating, and found me a project up in Bramadero, where I spent a few weeks living, learning and working.  AsoFénix works with many different communities, and I was continually impressed by the quality AND quantity of AsoFénix´s work.  Seems that every rural inhabitant in this area of Nicaragua knows Jaime (AsoFénix´s director), and can name at least two projects that have directly benefitted their lives. AsoFénix has certainly been busy this summer.  Currently, there are two major electrification projects using both wind and hydro power, bringing electricity to about 500 people.  On an ongoing basis, more biodigestors being built, studied and improved, impacting three different communities. These projects don´t include AsoFénix´s support and education to past projects, community organization for future projects, partnership projects, fundraising or day-to-day necessary office work.

I was happy to be able to see many of these projects in action, and assist where possible.  As a business student, I realized that my skills might best be utilized in the office, so I ended up moving back down to Managua to re-develop AsoFénix´s website, and write a business plan to help them approach new funding sources.  These projects have been very rewarding for me.  Not only am I flexing my Spanish muscle in a new way, but also getting a unique perspective on the entire organization as I record all their past projects, beneficiaries and impacts. (If you are curious to learn more, head on over to our new and improved site, http://asofenix.org)

What I´ve learned in my time here at AsoFénix has been invaluable.  As I move forward in my career in International Development and renewable energy, both the practical applications and strategic vision of AsoFénix will help me build and support similar enterprises.

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In Spring 2009 Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling formed the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) as a model for sustainable community engagement and collaboration with traditional marginalized communities.

Professor of Counseling Psychology Tod Sloan calls this “engaged scholarship” and the college is actively developing various projects that that focus on this concept. In the video below Professor Sloan discusses the various ways in which he practices engaged scholarship, including a trip to Nicaragua with the organization Green Empowerment, to assess its impact on community well being. The video includes footage taken by current graduate student Kelly Hubert, one of several students who accompanied Sloan in Nicaragua.

To read the full article and learn about other Center for Community Engagement projects please click on the following link: http://www.lclark.edu/news/story/?id=1420

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